I would like to let the new comers know about our background. Actually, our connection with Tibetan Buddhism is very strong. There are friends from Tibetan Buddhism who often pay us visits including the Khenpos and lamas from Nyingma, Gelug, Sakya and Kagyud. I am a “rime” (non-sectarian). I learnt from many schools of Buddhism during the initial stage of my practice including Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana; Kagyud, Nyingma, Gelug and Sakya. I don’t care who you are, as long as you have something worth learning, I will learn from you. I always assume that I have nothing and I am always prepared to learn from scratch and from everyone.
I have been learning non-stop during the past 30 years; I have never stopped learning, listening and reading. I have learnt a lot from books, including two, three hundred books written by Grand Master, which I will usually finish reading at night on the very day I got hold of one, assimilating the essence of Grand Master’s teachings. I also read books written by Tsultrim Lodro Khenpo, Sodaji Khenpo, Master Nan Huai Jin, H.H Jigme Puntsok, H.H Diglo Kyentse, Master Liu Rui Zhi, Master Chen Jian Min etc. As long as you are capable of writing something, I will read it. They are my source of learning, I regard them all as my teachers and I learn from them.
Of course, I know that one is unable to attain enlightenment by simply reading. The books are just a guide telling a practitioner the various methods of practice. You will not be able to attain enlightenment after reading the Three Tipitakas and the Five Major Commentaries because they are just a finger pointing at the moon; you will not be able to reach the moon through mere reading the finger. If reading the books alone can give the reader the state of enlightenment, who among the students of Grand Master has attained enlightenment so far after reading the two, three hundred volumes of book written by Grand Master? Even those who have been named by Grand Master for “hitting the target” (attaining the state of realization) can still fail the tests. In this regard, they are no different from those who are unable to “hit the target”. In my opinion, spitirual practice is never an easy task – it is something that needs to be done life after life. I have been practicing for numerous lives, non-stop, till now.
The books can provide us with some experience which can enrich the contents of our teaching. However, the true wisdom does not come from the books; it comes from your own attainment; it comes from your own mind. Someone asked a Kagyud Master, “Is this book suitable for reading?” The master said, “Books have nothing to do with your true attainment. Don’t read them - get them out of the way.” He denied the usefulness of the books immediately because they will not give you the true attainment.
My view is that, reading is fine. However, you should realize that it will not bring you the true state of attainment. You will need to work on it. No doubt you will learn the experience of others from the books and know the teachings are as such but after learning the teachings, you will need to apply them in your practice. The books will not be able to set you free because everyone has different propensities acquired from the numerous past lives that must be treated differently; the tests are therefore different for the different individuals. No one could find all the answers in books. Maybe you will be able to find something close that gives you some insight - “I see, it is so!” However, the books have nothing to do with your true attainment. We cannot do away with the books entirely, of course. We should still read them but we should let go of them after reading. Everyone should understand this point. The tests will come one after another during the entire process of practice; they will never end.
Tantra can help one attain Buddhahood in a single lifetime. However, in reality, it is very difficult to achieve that. If you are a reincarnated enlightened master or Buddha, you will be able to attain Buddhahood in a single lifetime. Otherwise, one has to practice life after life, including myself. I have been practicing rigorously for 30 to 40 years by now; I used every opportunity in my life to practice and I blend the practice into my daily activity – reading, meditation, recitation etc. I learn from many teachers. I spent all my available time on practice. Today, I managed to achieve a little attainment which is insignificant in my opinion. So, do not think that practice is easy as just chanting a few mantras, forming a few mudras, doing some visualization etc. It is not that easy. Practice spans across thousands of lifetimes, and it requires a practitioner to learn humbly.
I am a “ligme” (non-sectarianism). It does not matter whether it is Hinayana, Mahayana or Vajrayana, as long as you give the right teachings, I will learn from you. I only believe in one “yana” – the Buddha-yana. As long as you are teaching the Buddha Dharma, giving the right teachings, I will learn from you. This is my spiritual path. I hope you will practice with vigour. If you think that you can grasp everything in this world including your kids, family, career etc. and at the same time aspire to attain enlightenment – let me tell you this – it is impossible! Of course there are some individuals who are able to do so but I will not be the one for sure!
Even Grand Master has been practicing life after life before attaining Buddhahood. I hope that you will treat spiritual practice as the most important thing in life and let go of other worldly concerns. If you can do this, you will stand a chance to attain Buddhahood in this single lifetime. If you give worldly concerns the highest priority, you will never be able to attain Buddhahood; you can only wait for Grand Master or someone capable of bringing you to the Western Blissful Pure Land when you pass away from this life. Anyway, you will still need to do your practice in the pure land; you might as well start doing your practice now. Please ponder on what I have just said.
A Dharma Discourse given by Acho Rinpoch on 14 Oct 2013